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The role of randomness in Darwinian evolution


Wagner, Andreas (2012). The role of randomness in Darwinian evolution. Philosophia Scientiae - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 79:95-119.

Abstract

Historically, one of the most controversial aspects of Darwinian evolution has been the prominent role that randomness and random change play in it. Most biologists agree that mutations in DNA have random effects on fitness. However, fitness is a highly simplified scalar representation of an enormously complex phenotype. Challenges to Darwinian thinking have focused on such complex phenotypes. Whether mutations affect such complex phenotypes randomly is ill understood. Here I discuss three very different classes of well-studied molecular phenotypes in which mutations cause nonrandom changes, based on our current knowledge. What is more, this nonrandomness facilitates evolutionary adaptation. Thus, living beings may translateDNA change into nonrandom phenotypic change that facilitates Darwinian evolution.

Historically, one of the most controversial aspects of Darwinian evolution has been the prominent role that randomness and random change play in it. Most biologists agree that mutations in DNA have random effects on fitness. However, fitness is a highly simplified scalar representation of an enormously complex phenotype. Challenges to Darwinian thinking have focused on such complex phenotypes. Whether mutations affect such complex phenotypes randomly is ill understood. Here I discuss three very different classes of well-studied molecular phenotypes in which mutations cause nonrandom changes, based on our current knowledge. What is more, this nonrandomness facilitates evolutionary adaptation. Thus, living beings may translateDNA change into nonrandom phenotypic change that facilitates Darwinian evolution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:07 Feb 2013 15:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:23
Publisher:Editions Kime
ISSN:1281-2463
Related URLs:http://poincare.univ-nancy2.fr/
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-71711

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